A Special Honor to a Distinguished Statesman, Sir Bosa Ambrose Onwurah
by Prof. Bedford N. Umez
Professor (Mrs.) Christie Onwurah, Venerable/Professor Polycarp Onwurah, Mrs. Constance Ude (Née Onwurah), Dr. Emenike Onwurah, Mr. Godwin Chidi Onwurah, Members of Onwurah family, Distinguished Guests, and Fellow Brothers and Sisters of Akpugoeze:
Today, April 27, 2018, we say goodbye to a great statesman, Sir Bosa Ambrose Onwurah. My deepest condolences to the family of Onwurah and my town, Akpugoeze, for a huge loss. Akpugoeze will long remember Bosa as a great man with a weighty legacy, an advocate and a champion for those who had little or none, a progressive thinker, a farsighted community leader, an awesome husband, a caring father, brother, nephew, an uncle, and a great friend.
Bosa’s benevolent spirit was a community property. His career was all about public service. When it came to Akpugoeze, Bosa knew no North, no South, no East, nor West, but only Akpugoeze. Bosa spoke peace, unity and greatness of Akpugoeze; his actions demonstrated all, and his life bore witness to all. Bosa was a man of great courage – speaking truth to power and calling a spade a spade when occasions warranted. Indeed, to the ardent patriots of Akpugoeze, only a few can match the qualities of Bosa. Below recounts my 21-year relationship with Bosa since I left Akpugoeze for the United States in May 1981.
BOSA – The Man I Knew
I came to know Bosa as a true statesman in the late 1990s through my relative, Evelyn Eke, when she was a student at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN). Since then, I have been in contact with Bosa. Bosa was not only a reliable communication link between Evelyn and myself, providence quickly revealed to me the caliber of the man - his love and magnanimity for Akpugoeze and her people at home and at the UNN. I visited with Bosa last in December 2014 and early January 2015. In those two visits, our conversation centered on (a) tarring the deplorable roads of Akpugoeze and (b) figuring out the most persuasive way to get the fortunate Akpugoeze citizens to assist the less fortunate ones for the greater good of our town and our people.
Bosa was a visionary leader. As a farsighted leader, Bosa foresaw the plight of Akpugoeze in Enugu State, and courageously fought every tooth and nail for our town to remain in Anambra State. Had it been that his wisdom prevailed, we could have been enjoying tarred roads in Akpugoeze for some time now. As it stands today, Akpugoeze is the only town within our own “hemisphere” without tarred roads.
Bosa believed in peace and harmony. I agreed with Bosa and some Akpugoeze indigenes who believe that Afọ v. Orie market squabble (reminiscent of the old Eke v. Orie market feud) is very divisive and counterproductive to our community development efforts. Indeed, I participated by telephone in one Akpugoeze meeting held at Engr. Anayọ Onwuegbu’s residence at Nza Street, Enugu - pleading with Akpugoeze people to abandon this Afọ-Orie tug of war and focus on tarring Akpugoeze roads. My point then and now, and my reason for petitioning Gov. Sullivan Chime on Oji-River L. G. roads on Oct. 30, 2008, is that once our roads are tarred, Akpugoeze will have a DAILY MARKET and our farmers can sell whatever they produce in our daily market. I wept the day I learnt that the voice for unity failed, and people were being sanctioned or fined for shopping in the “other market” their village “leaders” considered a taboo! What a destructive economic policy! Clearly, these divisions are further destroying Akpugoeze because I also learnt in December 2014 that there was nothing again like Akpugoeze Town Hall Meetings to address our collective challenges, and plan together for community development. What a disgrace!
What has happened to Akpugoeze – the community that used to drink wine with one cup? Who murdered common sense in our town? Who murdered unity in Akpugoeze? What do we gain by dividing our ourselves and our children into enemy camps of “WE” versus “THEM”? What has happened to our Christian values and beliefs? We go to church every Sunday. We learned in our churches and from the Bible that GOD is peaceful and loving. We learned in our churches and from the Bible that a House divided against itself cannot stand. Yet, some Christians among us, who should know better, continue to sow seeds of discord and hatred in our midst. Similarly, in Igbo lexicon, we learned and memorized the following words of great wisdom: “Udo ka”, “Nwa nne ka,” “Gidigidi bụ ugwu eze,” “Anyụkọta nwa-amịrị ọnụ ọgbọọ ụfụfụ”. Yet, some of our elders, who ought to know better, are bent on dividing Akpugoeze and her youths. For what purpose? “For what shall it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his own soul?” (Mark 8:36). My brothers and sisters, these man-made divisions and subdivisions in our town, probably engineered for personal motives, are dead wrong and are demonstrably antitheses to community development. They are patently wrong in the eyes of man and in the eyes of God. To grow as a people, we must re-cultivate the spirits of unity, peace and love which defined Bosa whole hog. Accordingly, we should honor Bosa properly and meaningfully - the point I now turn.
HONORING BOSA – An Illustrious Statesman
We should honor Sir Bosa Ambrose Onwurah as great men and women are honored in progressive countries we call “developed” and “civilized”. In other words, honoring Bosa should NOT end today, April 27, 2018, with our usual donation of cows and goats, eating lots of meat, jollof rice, tapioca, drinking assorted wines, and dancing till our feet get tired. While it is customary and proper in occasions like the present to celebrate a life well lived with pomp and pageantry, we must know that the most MEANINGFUL way to honor GREAT men and women is to FOLLOW in their footsteps. If we follow in the footsteps of great men and women as Bosa, we will be GREAT and our town MORE DEVELOPED because greatness and development do not fall from the sky. "We must be the change we wish to see in the world" (Mahatma Gandhi).
Put differently, REAL Christians honor Jesus Christ, not by name but by acting Godly. Indeed, “Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven” (Mathew 7:21). Therefore, to honor God, we must divine His will as it was clearly demonstrated in the story of the Good Samaritan. By the same token, great nations, e.g., the United States of America, Great Britain, Germany, etc., honor their great men and women by following in their footsteps, and that keeps them growing in perpetuity.
Bosa will be greatly honored if we love Akpugoeze and her people as he did. He loved our town because it was his own town. He desired the prosperity of our people because we were his brothers and sisters. His exemplary service to our town, his career par excellence – which was, among others, a beacon of hope for our people at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, and his God-fearing life must be our catalysts to move Akpugoeze forward. We must honor Bosa in deeds and actions as we say goodbye to him.
GOODBYE BOSA – May Your Loving, Caring Soul Rest in Perfect Peace
As we say goodbye to Sir Bosa Ambrose Onwurah; as we have now agreed to follow in his footsteps and work for the progress and the unity of our town as he did; as we have agreed to be each other’s keeper as he did, we then call upon the Father of ALL fathers, our Almighty God, and the Son of ALL sons, Jesus Christ, to grant him eternal peace until we meet him again only to part no more. AMEN!
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